The John Seymour School for Self Sufficiency

STOP PRESS - DATES FOR OUR SPRING COURSE ARE NOW FIXED FOR 10-16 APRIL

The Winter Season      The winter season is well and truly upon us now – heavy rain and wild winds. Apart from the last 4 rows of carrots, all the food is now harvested from the garden. All has been weeded and rotavated – with help from Ruth and Ben (past students) who kindly put in a days work with us recently. The sprouting broccoli is still standing tall and relatively unscathed despite the long warm autum which gave our caterpillar friends extra feeding time! No attacks from the pigeons as yet. Miraculously the autumn raspberries are still producing plenty of fine fruit despite the frost and storms!

We had excellent crops of carrots and parsnips this year – 47 bags of parsnips and over 50 bags of carrots are now in the deep freeze. That was more than 8 hours hard work in the kitchen peeling, blanching and bagging!


Parsnipssycamore

A couple of weeks back we finally managed to fell the huge sycamore which has been pressing up against the north side of the south facing wall. A mighty crash of “timber”! So now the task is to clear and cut up the wreckage – amazingly the sycamore splits quite easily when green. Sycamore becomes impossible to split once it dries out.

A Good Year      Altogether it has been a good season. Wonderfully interesting and inspiring students from all corners of the planet. Plenty of music and games and, of course, lots of lovely home produced food. And my small campaign to re-introduce the traditional scythe for controlling grassland and weeds has resulted in sale of 5 new scythes. I am currently increasing production so as to have many more ready for the 2016 season. The two handled scottish or northumbrian scythe is much the best tool for controlling tough weeds like thistle, nettle and (particularly) brambles/tree seedlings.

Courses in 2016 - First Course now fixed for 10-16 April

We are already planning the 2016 season of courses. For those readers who have already expressed interest, the idea is to have 2 courses in April for the spring sowing and preparations then 2 further courses at the end of the summer (late Sept/Oct) for harvesting and preparation for winter.

As always each course has a full syllabus based on the Complete Book. It would help our planning if prospective students could give us some idea of whether spring or autumn would be their preference.

      For more information click here.

Winter Garden  Greenhouse almost empty now apart from strung onions, the vine and the citrus trees.     Broccoli doing well in winter sunshine.
greenhousebroccoli

Northumbrian "A" frame scythes for sale

My small campaign to re-introduce the tradtional scythe for controlling grassland and weeds has resulted in sale of 5 new scythes. I am currently increasing production so as to have many more ready for the 2016 season. The two handled scottish or northumbrian scythe is much the best tool for controlling tough weeds like thistle, nettle and (particularly) brambles/tree seedlings.    Drop me a line if you want to order - choice of blades is yours.

New Scythe 
 
The Renovation Story

  In 2014 our courses moved to the beautiful coast of north Northumberland where we have begun the renovation of a fine old Victorian kitchen garden at Christon Bank.    The renovation work provides an unusual opportunity for our students to be involved in the development of the garden infrastructure and planning.     It's many years since the garden was in full use but the site is lucky enough to have a massively high brick wall along its east and north sides.    The wall was built from the dutch bricks which were used as ballast by coal ships from Newcastle in the nineteenth century.  

The Christon Bank farmhouse has been lovingly restored by the Gilbert family and now includes a pond and wildflower meadow.

The wildflower meadow

The kitchen garden lies on the north side (to the left of the picture).     The soil is a heavy well drained loam with few nasty weeds - no creeping buttercup or couch, just a few nettles.    The biggest challenge was digging out a few very old tree stumps whose roots have gone under the walls.   You can see the massive (recently re-pointed) south facing wall which will give the garden such a beneficial micro-climate.  

The School

Will Sutherland has run self-sufficiency courses for almost 20 years, teaching the methods and philosophy developed by John Seymour.     Will worked for over 10 years with John Seymour in Ireland and, with John, created the New Complete Book of Self Sufficiency published by Dorling Kindersley.   In 2010 we took our courses to the wine growing region near Bordeaux where the warm weather, swimming pool and excellent local wine made a nice change from the cooler climes of Ireland.    Now we are moving back to cooler climes to take up the challenge of re-creating a classic old kitchen garden.  



What our students said:

“Thank you so much: we really enjoyed the course and found it VERY interesting and helpful. And what a beautiful place in which to do it”

“Thank you for a wonderful holiday. The food has been amazing and we have really enjoyed the Class. You have a beautiful place here.”

Such great people. Such strong spirits. Great to know you guys!'

“The training and experience at St Leger was the best birthday present I could have had. Your book and your work have opened up for us a better way to enjoy life in harmony with the land and nature.”